Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor
Photographed by David Walegren
The summer is heating up and venues are returning for just in time for an epic hot weather season.
Playful sex or plays on sexuality are not new in fashion, its eras and moments have long reaching historical and cultural connections of convergence. Most of the instances happen during periods of re-definition, revolution and upheaval. Currently, fashion is at a large intersection of re-invention, gender and inclusion.
A new generation of fashion designers have been artistically and rapidly re-defining the fashion landscape through collaborations with other arriving artist and creatives. Their textiles are artisanal and are often environmentally aware. The production are small with limited runs and an eye toward a responsible future. An exciting element is that these brands within this designer market are steady expanding and becoming engaged in the fashion industry in unique ways. In New York, British painter and textile artist Patrick Church creates identity inspired boldly, printed gender-fluid fashion and Neil Patrick Grotizinger NIHL NYC is known for multiple expressions of masculinity through wearable works of art. London based designer, Liam Hodges' youthful streetwear is a “luxury brand for the mad and bad ones.” and Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto of JORDANLUCA merge Italian heritage with the raw intensity of London, a creative process rooted in their catharsis of emerging from many years in recovery.
Currently showing at Paris Men's Fashion Week for the past four seasons, Lazoschmidl is a fashion label founded by Josef Lazo and Andreas Schmidl. The company is based in Sweden and Germany, its positioned as an artistic studio of conceptual men's and non-binary fashion. The team are an interesting partnership they met on a dating site before apps, progressing to a long distance relationship and eventually in 2014 on a whim created a fashion collection together with unexpected attention.
Josef Lazo has a traditional fashion background with an undergraduate design degree from London College of Fashion and background in art. Andreas Schmidl has a Masters degree in German and Japanese literature form Goethe University Frankfurt one of Europe's top research institutions. The coming together of these two creative minds found inspiration in the melding of art, literature and fashion. In past seasons the collections have also draw upon many iconic musical groups such as ABBA, Iggy Pop and Cher to the distinctive contemporary art of Gilbert and George and the metamorphosis of Franz Kafka. It's key to note that Lazoschmidl is not speaking to the past but rather using it as a clever spring board to highlight this moment in fashion for a digitally native audience who are engaged on a number of levels and platforms. A playful and popular creation within their brand is their underwear which is created for the sexy selfie. The waistband is written backwards so that it photographs correctly in the mirror.
The process of a creating a collection for Lazoschmidl begins with writing a form of storytelling, narrative, setting, score, character and commentary. In Scandinavia they quickly moved to the fore of Stockholm Fashion Week with their first collections which were noted as being daring and sensual in nature. In 2016 the brand was awarded with the Innovation Prize by Swedish Fashion Council. They challenged norms by embracing the bareness of female lingerie on men, obvious sexuality akin to the red-light districts in Frankfurt. The bareness, textile sense and scripted role play also recalls fashion's past playful campaigns and collections based on sex created by Dolce Gabanna Men 'Little Italy' in 1990 photographed by Steven Meisel and Tom Ford's collection for Gucci in spring 2000.
In Paris Lazoschmidl past collections merged fashion and literature in a fictional B-rated Si-fi film based on a 'galactic sexplortation' making the embellished model's crotch area the forbidden planet a story worthy of Dino De Laurentiis and Rodger Vadim. What's interesting is that the design pair could be easily be dismissed as camp and a flash in the momentary pan of fashion's meandering discussion as to what constitutes a serious fashion expression and what is camp. The key is clear brand direction, in-tune generational awareness and a constant shift forward each season of Lazoschmidl has an element of surprise and intelligence. This is further advanced with their seasonal 'Fanzine' titleed Unpublished Material, a visual essay photographed a by a varying team of contributors. The creative collaborations are scripted and have included some of Scandinavia's and Europe's most interesting and promising talent.
Unpublished Material is produced in limited runs and the issue number is printed in reverse for the ideal selfie. The marketing not only speaks to the client base but operates as an additional look book for sale. In fashion, historically this has worked for directional youth brands, one can look to the innovations of Barbara Hulanicki's BIBA catalogues photographed by Hans Feurer and many will recall how photographs of t-shirts, khakis and boxer shorts never looked so exciting as in Bruce Weber's AF Quarterly for Abercrombie & Fitch during the early two-thousands.
Lazoschmidl's spring/summer 2021 was created via the What's App correspondence between Stockholm and Germany, a realty reflecting the grip of pandemic. The collection's script was optimistic. What will your post lock-down look be when you are finally able to go out? Lazo and Schmidl wrote a script another never to be produced B movie scenario circa 1989, about a Lesbian road trip to Utopia, the setting was cheap hotel pools, fast food restaurants and Karaoke bars were the setting, the collection title was 'Magarita'.
Independence and exploration were the paramount themes of the collection, highlighting cow-printed textiles made from recycled PET bottles, metallic jersey, a great deal of swimwear fabrication, brightly colored Lycra cycling shorts. Their signature embroidered butterfly patch in crystal made by an artisanal manufacturer in Scandinavia, embellished swimwear crotches and sweaters.
Whimsically illustrated flower prints were created by Scott Csoke a trained photographer and artist from Virginia . His work is also a major feature in the Fall 2021 collection 'Cake'. The artist is an LGBTQI activist who incorporates biographical phrases in his work, a fundamental influence has been his terrible bouts with anxiety and his reflections and experiences in the Gay community.
The collection was presented in a three minute film directed by Johan von Reybekiel who is based in Stockholm. The very youthful male cast was styled by Emma Thorstrand, is frolicking in a pool with music by Carl Hjelm. The film is part of a historic liner Gay connection, in a reaching, vague way, to men swimming in works by E.M. Forster, Thomas Eakins to Tom Bianchi but far from poetic or reflective or even masculine the film is of the moment.
Unpublished Material #12 highlighting this collection was photographed by David Walegren a Stockhom based director photographer. The script for the fanzine was a inspired by teen fan magazine of the nineteen eighties, model William Wiberg was photographed on a yacht in the Stockholm archipelago. It was styled by Walgren's results are cinematic and quite striking.